Italy aligns itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of the European Union.
At the outset, we would like to thank Ms. Marchi-Uhel for presenting the ninth report contained in document A/77/751 on the work of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.
Syria continues to represent one of the worst security and humanitarian crises of the last decade, with devastating consequences reverberating in the whole Middle East and beyond. The recent earthquake, which has affected vast areas in the country, has further aggravated the humanitarian situation. We wish to stress once again that those who have been suffering most have been the Syrian people. In particular, they have been suffering human rights violations on a systematic scale, often as a result of attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure perpetrated in breach of international humanitarian law. The only way out to such a prolonged crisis is progressing with the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and with its provisions, charting a path towards a peaceful solution to the conflict, and therefore we fully support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Geir Petersen.
Within this context, we are convinced that lasting peace in the country can be ensured only through accountability for the most serious crimes committed by any party during the conflict, in particular war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is not only a moral imperative, but also a deterrent of future violations and a fundamental element of any reconciliation process. Impunity should end. Justice for victims is an essential condition for sustainable peace in Syria.
It is in that spirit that Italy strongly supports the IIIM since its constitution – together with the other UN bodies established for the purpose of accountability in Syria, such as the Commission of Inquiry and the OPWC Investigation and Identification Team – as a key mechanism for the collection, consolidation, preservation, analysis and sharing of evidence of grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Italy is particularly appreciative of the progress achieved by the Mechanism during the reporting period and welcomes the increasing cooperation between the Mechanisms and national authorities in investigating and prosecuting the gravest crimes committed in Syria. Recent national prosecutions and sentences show that the impunity gap is narrowing. Italy has consistently held that domestic prosecutions and trials should be complemented by the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. It is unfortunate that such referral has been flouted by the threat or actual use of the veto by two of the permanent members of the Security Council.
The pattern observed in Syria over the last years has been a shocking one, with indiscriminate violence targeting often the most vulnerable, such as women, girls, children and minorities. Italy remains also deeply concerned about the large number of extrajudicial executions and missing or illegally detained persons, as well as about torture and gender-based violence cases occurred in detention centres. It is in this context that Italy wishes to express its appreciation for the efforts made by the Mechanism to develop thematic strategies focused on those vulnerable categories on the basis of a victim/survivor-centred approach. Cooperation with civil society organizations, within and outside Syria, is of paramount importance in this respect. Inclusive justice for the Syrian people can be achieved only if the perspectives of those who have suffered the most from the conflict are taken onboard.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to reiterate that Italy supports the funding of the IIIM through the regular UN budget and through voluntary contributions. It is of the utmost importance that the Mechanism can count on a regular UN financial endowment in order to plan and progress in its work. Italy will continue to support within UN competent bodies a regular and adequate provision of funds for the Mechanism.